What's the latest projection on the completion date for the ongoing construction project on Interstate 275 involving Roosevelt Boulevard? Once completed, a new ramp will connect westbound traffic to 118th Avenue, eliminating the need to exit I-275 onto Roosevelt and go to the signal at 28th Street to get to 118th. The project is involved, with the construction of two new bridges and bridge widening. Although most work has been done at night, lane closures have caused headaches.
At the same time, the Pinellas County Solid Waste facility has been moving an underground wall that had been in the median of 118th to make way for a second bridge and approach that completes the new ramp. This work had to be done before construction of a second bridge over the I-275 ramp and 118th Avenue.
John McShaffrey of the state Department of Transportation said both lanes on the Roosevelt ramp should be open in time for the Fourth of July weekend. The contractor is significantly ahead of schedule, and barring problems it may be open before July.
"The bridge widening over I-275 and Roosevelt Boulevard is mostly completed, with work now focusing more between Roosevelt and 118th Avenue,'' McShaffrey said. "Bridge work is busy on the south and west ends of the project (118th Avenue area), and night closures on the interstate should be significantly reduced.''
Improvements aimed at pedestrian safety
Ongoing concerns about pedestrian safety along Gulf Boulevard have kept the Doc's inbox full, and we continue to share readers' comments and ideas with the DOT. Here's one such letter from reader Gary Kilborn:
"The crosswalks on Gulf Boulevard are one of the most dangerous things in Pinellas County. I would never take my family across one of them and assume that it is safe. Most people from out of town are not aware of them and even if you know the rules of the road, it is hard to tell when someone is about to step off the curb because you generally have your eyes straight ahead on the road.
"Is it too much to ask that the DOT install a signal that will turn red on demand and notify all traffic in the manner we are accustomed?"
Kris Carson of the DOT told us that the department has budgeted $1 million to design and construct pedestrian safety improvements on Gulf Boulevard and Blind Pass Road. Final plans should be submitted in November or December, with bids in spring 2011. Construction would begin several months later.
"The plans include raised refuge islands, raised left-turn and right-turn islands, and new crosswalks on this traffic corridor along with the possibility of other safety improvements," Carson said.
Ride to and from Rays games free until May 2
Free shuttles will run from downtown parking sites to Tropicana Field during Rays games today through May 2. Service will be provided by a combination of buses, mini buses and Red Open Air Trolleys beginning 90 minutes before each game and ending an hour after each game or post-game concert. Shuttle stops will be on Second Street between Central and First Avenue S under the pedestrian bridge connecting the Bank of America Tower and South Core garage, and 16th Street just south of Third Avenue S. The shuttles will run loops every 10 to 15 minutes.
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